Tag Archive | personhood

I Support Duterte. Part 5.

Once I shouted “bullshit” to a bunch of kids. That was when I was only a little more than a kid myself, my control on my emotions not as good as expected of adults, and besides my country does not cater to a culture that prevents and frowns on the public display of emotions.

It was actually at a classroom of seventeen or eighteen year-olds, I think, and they have known since they were seven what was expected of them inside the classroom: order, hushed voices if any, and avoidance of chaos MOST ESPECIALLY when a class activity is being conducted. And especially when a person of academic authority is present. They violated the standards of decorum at all counts and I wasn’t able to hold my strong dismay over their lack of respectfulness. So there was silence all at once, they knew that they deserved the strong reproach, they were strongly reminded where the class stands with respect to misbehavior, and they didn’t do it again.

As little kids until adolescents we were taught and expected to stand up and greet a visitor in unison. When a teacher was at our classroom door everything stops in the classroom because we’d all stand up as one and say together, “Good morning, Mrs. Santos.”, or something like that. If we did not know the person’s name we’d say, “Good morning, visitor.” All public primary and secondary schools in the Philippines, and even the private ones, practice this. So when I went to college I felt awkward when we weren’t allowed to do that kind of greeting anymore. I felt that it was disrespectful. But it seems that “adult” education does not expect such standard of respectfulness anymore. I slowly learned to live with the awkwardness and adapted to the non-practice. However, all teachers that I met in campus always got a “good mornig, ma’am” or a “good afternoon, sir” from me and from most of the other students, too.

That was the only time, as far as I can remember, when I spoke a swear word in public. I would remember it because I do not speak swear words at all in the hearing of another person. Not even with my family. Not even with my closest friends. I hardly think with swear words except when I am aggravated and then I can let myself deal with the issue with swear words that are commensurate to the gravity of the disturbance created in me — but all this would be silently and mentally, where only I can hear them being spoken out in my brain. I only “swear to myself”, so to speak.

The complementary set-up to my no-spoken-swearing stand is that I also do not receive swear words from anyone, and that I would take it as a grave insult if anyone swears at me. At home this is easy because nobody speaks swear words in our house. The worst that we would concede to is “gaga” or “gago”, for female or male as the case may be, and this not straight out but instead we modify it to “gagagaga” or to “ogag” to soften the impact to our own ears AND ALL THIS NEVER TO ONE ANOTHER IN THE HOUSE BUT TO SOMEBODY ELSE OF WHOM WE MAY BE ABLE TO CRITICIZE AS SIMPLY A MATTER OF OPINION DUE TO THEIR MANIFESTED ACTIONS AND NEVER DUE TO GOSSIP, AND ABSOLUTELY NEVER TOWARDS A RELATIVE. “Gaga” and “gago” may be best translated as “stupid”. There are families who speak swear words freely to each other, I have friends who use swear words freely, and I have nothing against them. I understand the context of their usage and they don’t swear at me besides. I leave them be and we stay friends. I know many persons  who hold similar opinions to mine regarding this matter. There are also many families who are like mine.

However, as it stands now I could hear myself freely speak to my close friends (BUT NOT AT HOME!) this opinion: “Dipuga! Din ka pa kakita prisidente nga parihas sini?!!” This will elicit amused chukles all around because this signals a concession on my part on behalf of a strong conviction as evidenced in the emphatic use of a ‘dirty’ swear word.

Translated into English that will amount to: F**k! Where else can you get a president like this one?!!

Or, that swear word can also be Bu*s*it!

Dipuga is a mellower variant of yudep*ta or of the shorter dep*ta.  “Yudep*ta” is the short form of “iho de p*ta”. Those who speak Spanish can see it clearly that it is the adaptation of “hijo de p*ta”, which into English is the common expletive SOB. However, not everyone prefers the length of that expletive even when the end part is modified into “gun!”. Many would ordinarily use the faster-said f**k or b**ch. English speakers know that this expletive, SOB, does not say anything about one’s mother. The expletive is not directed to mothers. The expletive is just an expression that is commensurate to the degree that an emotion is felt. It, or any similar to it (like “damn”), may even be breathed out in times of pleasant surprises.

I do not buy the disdain of the elitists in my country towards the foul mouth of our president. That’s all BS and they can all go to he*l. They can go f**k themselves. If they do not like swear words then so do I. If they have a high standard of abhorrence against swear words then so does my family. They do not even know from what standpoint they are on in their attack against the president’s manner of speaking. If the son of a pastor, and a former pastor, and a friend of a pastor can work closely with our president then I have no problem with their willingness to do so. Their participation speaks volumes about the character of the real Duterte. (If you think that these principled persons surrounding him will condone what is being accused of him (read: “illegal executions”) then there is something wrong with your basis. The head of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), Atty. Acosta, can help you be clarified with this issue. )

Those who just keep on harping (without saying anything else analytical, informative, and substantial) that the president “behave himself” are a bunch of gaga and gago. The executive branch of government has a mountain-load of urgent matters to attend to and all they recommend is that the  president soaps out his mouth. These misguided elitists have opinions and preferences that are more blind than a bat. More than being blind they are navigating at a wrong course, and in this instance a bat’s non-sight is not a matter for criticism because bats zero in perfectly towards their aims even without sight.

These elitists in my country (I’m describing those who fit in the description; it does not mean ALL  ELITISTS; I concede that there are possibly many exceptions), those who are shoot-high-up-to-the-moon-proud about their prowess in manipulating the English language, they generally know nothing about real life and real poverty and real suffering. (They’re the kind who who have the skills to write in opinion columns of newspapers.) All they know is how to keep their faces smooth and white like porcelain and how to keep their car tires mud free. And how to keep smelling like flowers and cologne the entire day. And how to keep dirt from under their fingernails. They know nothing about having to skip a meal because there simply are no means to get one. If ever they’d skip a meal it would be because they wish to subtract from the fat that’s jiggling in their overfed bodies. Being fat is not the issue here: the picture in this context that I speak of points to the indiferrence to human suffering that’s surrounding these elitists.

Today I heard the president reiterating his purpose of keeping friendly relations with all nations, and this without any exception. We are a small nation and we cannot afford to pick fights with anybody, as the president also says so. If his speeches are, again and again, painted out of context and with colors that feature only one or two hues then the richness of his thoughts are wasted. When he gives speeches (this one that I heard today is for the Philippine Air Force at Villamor Air Base) he is like a professor who is giving a lecture on contemporary governance in the Philippine context against the perspective of recent history. His speeches are extemporaneous and are sourced from his own decades-long observations and conviction as a public servant, aside from being an academician himself. His speeches are for the purpose of putting forth the real picture, the more comprehensive picture, the bigger picture, that part of our national reality that does not get talked about in the mainstream media’s just-bits-and-pieces-commercialized-segments. Of course we can hardly demand more from mainstream media. They are running a business, after all. They have to figure out how to have lots of income.

Our president, for the most part of his speeches, is actually expressing his disagreement in his own authentic way of the so-called ‘educated’ Filipino’s lack of capacity to analyze deeper and wider the implications that their dearly held colonialistic views are continuing to disregard the real issues that are right there before their eyes. There is a severe lack of venues for discussing opinions beyond the simple and safe pat labelling. It is a kind of ‘education’ that has not kept up with the global movements and is continuing on its course of mis-educating the young ones. It is in fact preventing our youth from being empowered, keeping them relatively ignorant against the present global situation. If being modernized means having citizens who are capable of thinking out things for themselves and not to simply depend on cooked-up peddled views, then my country is far from modern. However, there are ‘modern’ nations that are suffering because big range media that started out as an institution for the people have digressed from their noble profession. If you are keeping up with the news then you know what this nation is.

Peace. Stay healthy. Thanks for thinking out with me. I wish you the best in life, in whatever area you wish blessings for. May He-Who-Blesses-All bless us all in His and our own good time.

 

I, learn

!good morning

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I, learn

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It is my birthright: not to be “used”.

“Just the Way You Are”

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I didn’t know that “Just the Way You Are” is Billy Joel’s song, back in 1977. I have liked that song ever since I can remember. But I knew Billy Joel only from his 1983 “Uptown Girl”, a fast song, and hence I associated him with such. Well, better late (at finding out of his range of musical prowess) than never.

Among the song’s lines (these have) fascinated me the most:

I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard, mmm
(I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are)

Billy Joel _singing Just the Way You AreI was prompted to write this post when I discovered, upon seeing a video of him singing the song, live and on the keys, that this stanza is the refrain in that it’s the one he repeats before he ends.

At first I could hardly believe that I was looking at Billy Joel in a formal suit. Then I noticed that he was sweating profusely. That, itself, was fascinating to me because it seemed he was not bothered by all this liquid on his face. Then I noticed, while the camera was focused on his right profile, that a trickle of liquid is highlighted on a path on his cheek that does not seem to be on the continuity from  his forehead. I would have loved to have turned to someone sitting beside me and ask, “Is he crying?”

I have always highly regarded this song. Since this is the first time I have seen somebody singing it live then I wanted to believe that Billy Joel was singing it straight from his heart. Maybe he was singing it to a specific somebody. I liked his “cool” performance because I thought he did not “try hard” at “acting out” at sincerity. He came out as simply sincere.

Recently this song’s “I don’t want clever conversation; I never want to work that hard” has become even more significant to me as I continue to circulate among people who “have lots to say” <– which exactly is what I, many a time, catch my own self doing 😀 😀 !!!

I can’t remember when was the first time I practiced putting my cerebral goods out into the open for those in conversation with me to see that I have managed to save lots on my tabula not-so-anymore rasa. If I did not know much about the subject then I would resort to expressing interest on it, using inquiries, by way of relating it to something else I would know more of.

So I was saying, that recently I realized what I was doing, and what the game everybody else seem to be playing. Clever conversations. Gak. It’s draining on the, um, I don’t know… nerves? … qi? … soul? 😀 whatever 😀

Did you know that for the Inuits they traditionally believe that too much thinking insults the spirit? And have you heard of the story about Africans who were hired as luggage carriers by some foreigners (or was it to guide in the hunting??) that one day, after hiking non-stop for days, they simply stopped and sat down and refused to move from the spot until, they said, their souls have caught up with them. I love both of these expressions against “thinking too much.” ❤

I guess I’m starting to really grow old now. Heheh. I feel like I have tried to participate at the parade of peacocks, have tried to compete, and then I only discovered that unless one comes out as “simply sincere” then all the sashaying is an insubstantial game. Hollow. A babel of sounds that fall on deaf ears. Poor overworked brain cells 🙂

Suddenly I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’ explanation on the thin line between pride (in association with being “good”) that is okay and pride that is foul. The parade of peacocks was how he illustrated one of those. With their feather-fans all out in proud display. (This is in his book Mere Christianity. This is among my favorites because it was one of those that started opening windows to me.)

Okay. Now my blah blah blah is complete for the moment ❤ Take care! And if ever one of these days you find yourself  sitting down on your haunches ruminating on this supposedly God’s-love-for-you thing, then I hope you’ll recall this song’s lovely line, “I love you just the way you are.”

 

My Journey to Non-Nationality


When I first came to Fangorn I didn’t know what kind of folks Fangornians are. Though I could have consulted the web or the prints still there simply was no time to even think about doing so. At that time I had to function like a crazed morph, having to sprout extra limbs and cerebral lobes. I had to prepare for the take off yet my feet was at a work place that screamed for organization. I’ve been alone on the road plodding for decades already and I’ve built a facade so camouflaged that my family and so-called friends couldn’t see how my internal gauges have been showing erratic fluctuations.

I even told an elder that I just came from shingles and he thought I was telling him that I’m single. If it wasn’t for my semi-‘conservative’ friend Netz I could have gone vegetable over those viral remnants of childhood chicken pox. The presence of persons such as Netz in my life make me think twice about labelling either my own self or other people.

Whether a person is from my gene pool or not the laws of biology and psychology are the same.

When I first came to Fangorn I was not so wistful of my different gene pool nor was I apprehensive of faces that I used to see only on screen. I was actually busy trying to figure out how the heck could I stay standing on the pavement without my brains freezing out before the coziness of the bus comes. I was preoccupied trying to figure out if the room lighting’s luminousity is up to my system’s survival threshold. I was foraging for sources of nourishment, the ones that would make my stomach aware that I have already put some into it.

Later, after having seen for myself that I could survive here, my brain started to grow out calmer dendrites. I started reflecting outside the context of immediate survival. I explored new turf.

I looked at the Fangornians. I couldn’t see much. That was a culture shock that I had seen coming. Even until today I still couldn’t see of them as much as I wanted to although a few have already welcomed me into their homes. I looked at the Flip-Flops. I saw more than I expected. I looked at the Zirconians as well as my fellow Zaps. Then I looked at the entire pulsating planet.

Ipensive contemplative reflective meditative thoughtful arrived at the conclusion that it is greed that has to do with all our woes. But when I talked about this to my classmate Moira he said that he thinks greed isn’t inherent in us humans, but that it’s a function of the environment. We’ve been brought up, he told me, to be greedy.

I still have to take the time to reflect on that. I have to look at original-sin side by side with tabula-rasa, too. I honestly don’t know from which angle to approach the topic with new eyes. I may have to go back to Moira, to pick up where we left it off because we had ran out of walking space.

In this picture are my new friends JDG, RK, and TCD.

Since two years ago when JDG heard me call a colleague “manong” (older brother) he told me that he, too, was my manong. So I started to call him that using the equivalent word in his mother speech, orabeoni. We started to relate to each other more freely than before but calling him manong didn’t take our friendship into a quantum leap, to that manong level. So I think next time I see him it would be more appopriate to substitute “sunbaenim” (respected senior) for orabeoni. I sense old and newly erected fences, all invisible to me, around which I should maneuver and in which in the end I’d possibly be left with a bye-bye to a friendship that could have been really great.

Shikataganai. East Zapians are of a machismo worldview and even fellow Zapians can’t do anything about that, lowering the gaze and clipping the arms by their sides upon meeting the so-called strong ones. But it is the East Zapians who taught me to reflect on loyalty and steadfastness, on endurance and single-mindedness. On appreciating the fullness of silence. Just as Treebeard said I shoudn’t be hasty at my conclusions.

Again, on the picture are RK and TCD, who are Zirconians. When I first came to Fangorn and was just learning to walk on snow, mustering the fear of my feet being singed through the soles of my shoes, I had thought of how to get out of the thinking that Zirconians, collectively, are responsible for the many woes of the Flip-Flops and of the pulsating planet. The peaceable consequence that I reached at was that whoever was responsible for the mess should be the one to clean it up. Whoever tipped the balance must do something to restore it.

thoughtful CNI needed to see at least one Zirconian who was exactly doing this, innocently and with integrity, without even being aware that there are Flips who think the way I do. Honestly I am vaguely aware that there are many Flips out there who echo my sentiments but that they are faceless to me. I do not personally know of one, and thought trains like these are, well, what can I say, camouflaged among thick forest undergrowths.

Not long after I met CN, a huge Zirconian with clear shining eyes. He and his friends have an ongoing program for ending world hunger. It’s a blatantly naive and gigantic ambition. It’s hopelessly lovable. He has tried to describe how the church could be functioning in our present context.

Like RK he has tried to talk in terms that would welcome anyone who’s eager to participate. Many would call it a post-modern paradigm, similar to several, both named and yet obscure, that are groping in the unchartered multiple-contexts we now find ourselves bewildered in.clear brilliant eyes

Now I know that I shouldn’t take Zirconians as a “people”, a generalized collective, but as “persons”, one individual at a time. There are Zirconians who, like RK and CN, are neither threatened nor limited by labeling.

Back home there was a Fangornian with whom I’d started to befriend. Of the extremely short time I spent with her I was able to ask her of whom did she thought we women should be modelling ourselves after. Her answer was startling to me then: after no-one. It is only now that I’m starting to understand her. It is only now that I’m starting to she what she meant when she said that first and foremost it is my own individuality that I must be looking out for.

As per the conversation I had with Moira, about greed, I tried to put it into a logical diagram and see what I can come up with:

Venn 1 & 2_greedy, people

Without bothering with defining the Universal Set, these four Venn diagrams show the possible relationships between all people and all greedy entities. My musings led me nearer to the idea pictured by Figure 4. Moira’s counter-arguments tend towards Figure 1, although not as how things are but rather as a starting point, when conditioning is taken out of the picture. Moira seemed to be telling me that humans do not have greediness as a necessary attribute, although he did say that he’d be needing all the evidences that he can get his hands on before being sure of this.

Venn 3 & 4_greedy, peopleFor me I just based my conclusion (Moira did tease me, that I have “concluded” already) on the historical events. Empires rising and falling. Countries getting richer and poorer. Parents in a frenzy about giving the A-class education to their children. Young professionals eager to show off the brands of their possessions. I have wanted to look into the machinery that fuels the global dynamics and if I start at the grass roots, at the level of an individual’s needs and wants, then I would pinpoint to the human’s propensity to get hold onto and retain something, incorporate it into the personal space. Of course some can readily recognize when the level of this “acquisition process” is becoming toxic and so it is readily called off. Bastante. This situation may be pictured by either Figure 2 or 3, above. Not everyone is helpless against greediness.

Still there’s something about my Venn diagrams that bother me. I’d like to replace “people”, a faceless mass, with “persons” — attributing now the sense of responsibility to individuals. Yet either way something still doesn’t quite fit. I feel like I’m figuring things out by ossifying phenomena with labels. It’s the same dynamics as when I talk of Fangonians, Zirconians, Zaps, and Flips as groups. Not all Zirconians are alike and I have yet to find a Flip who resonates in my frequency. Perhaps I never will. TCDTCD, a Zirconian whose personaliy I would zig-zag away from back home (chatty, readily friendly, flashy smile) surprisingly has become the first Zirconian I can relate to with ease, without being conscious of the cerebral gap. Because of him, CN, and RK, I now have little use of the label “Zircon”.

I had a Rilkan penfriend for eight years. I’m looking for her whereabouts now and I’m sure she does think of me sometimes. But, alas, we both cannot be found among the social media websites. I had a Shtoi dormmate. Her brother became my student and so we three have become friends. I will search for her home address among my files so that when I go to their country I will be able to visit them, as she invited me to. Now I have Moira a Milesian, and Benga a Huzz. We call ourselves “the three idiots” after that hilarious but enlightening Indian movie. There’s Peth the Fangornian lady back home, happily married to a fellow Flip of whom I am more at awe than friendly.

These non-Flips became friends because we related with expressions that connected persons, not peoples. We did not pre-define each other. We didn’t bring labels into our relationships. We simply faced each other, talked openly, and became one human being to another human being.

I had thought that it is only the word “race” that we should be doing away with. Now there’s national-classification as well. A wo/man’s context does not ‘define’ her/him. Honesty, trust, and thankfulness speak in a language that have nothing to do with culture, nationality, or genes.

Benga & Moira

Benga & Moira

Many Zirconians will continue to be jerks. Many Flips will continue to be clueless. Many Zaps will continue to be mesmerized by anything Zirconian or Deltan. Many Fangornians will remain cold and rude. This, however, is not the only lens with which to view humanity. Any human can equally be a jerk, clueless, impressionable, cold, or rude.

For purposes of conversations Moira and I could still use the Venn diagrams but now it has become clearer to me how all persons are configured by the tracks that they had to run on. Each landmark we pass by morphs us. Had I not found myself abruptly shoved into Fangorn I wouldn’t have started to trust a Zirconian for a long time yet. I relate to TCD as TCD, as himself, and not as someone with a Zircon-labeling.

Now I’m happier.

Thank you, Mr. Garfitt.

Jesus came to banish fear.

jesus of wigan  Though I haven’t gone through the entire book yet, the few parts that I have read so far are making good sense to me. For one, I can see that it’s obviously made out of love, that it’s a true labor of love, and it deserves much respect and consideration. Thank you, Francis Garfitt, for writing this fascinating and refreshing book about a living man and a living story that was calcified within just a few pages two thousand years ago.

I have always gone by the thought that if truth is in God, that if ‘truth’ is an embodiment of God, then there’s no way of disproving Him nor that our insistence on “defending” Him will add to that truthfulness. In pursuing my personal studies on that distant world of two thousand years ago when Jesus of Nazareth shook his world, I would like to listen to this particular voice that projects Jesus’ story’s context through a personal conviction using the platform of the contemporary world. ‘Evangelism’, after all, is not limited to the mainstream’s definition of it, if the reader sees it as that. A storyteller is by all means entitled to any artful way of delivering an old story with full relevance. We, those of us who want to keep on telling a story that has been stamped ‘unchangeable’, may just have to take the courage to step out of the silenced crowd and speak in a way that will make the story enabling again even to those who have been rendered numb by the challenges of everyday survival — the way that Jesus of Nazareth did. That’s love.  Jesus of Wigan

What I especially find refreshing among the narratives is the inclusion of the scientific perspective in order to bring about a multi-perspective handling of whatever scene is featured. In this book science is integrated as a tool for looking at what is. The outcome resonates with the Hebrew worldview where things are dealt with integrally, like for example that a human being is not allocated into body-&-soul parts. So far I can see it doesn’t pretend to know everything yet it’s a humbling book. It will make one look at things differently, make one recall the time when one realized that things are not what they are as seen on the surface. It will encourage you to love. It will confirm your simplest reasons for wishing for happiness.

(Note: Today is May 19, 2016. This was written 2 years ago. I need to update it soon. I just got to find the time. Get the book if you can. Jesus of Wigan by Francis Garfitt. You will like it even if you’re not interested in the religious side of it. ❤

Update: May 20, 2016. I edited the original script and added a few words. Still, that is not the ‘update’ that I meant. It will then look like a review of the book.)

Thanks for dropping by. Have a great day, everyone! 🙂

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  • 🙂 I have your book today, in paper. I don’t know when I can finish it considering that I’m not supposed to do anything else besides looking for certain things in books for a year at least, but actually I’m now on John’s first baptism. I’m liking John and I can easily connect him with that John in the desert, both with passions of that intensity. But how I wish I knew more of European economy/history so that I could get more laughs out of your quirky statements — I mean, I had my first big laugh at page (though unnumbered) 3 of Introduction and I anticipate that there are lots like it in this your thickish book. Though I think I just go open some more of your book for reasons other than greed for knowledge, otherwise things will just not get right with me. One has to be ready for the things that you say in here 🙂 . What made me confident enough to get a copy was that a few days ago I finally had a gut feeling of what evil is. The subject of evil isn’t an attractive material for me and so I haven’t read up on the academic discussions on it, nor am I interested in the macabre in popular media. But recently, in a flash, I realized that I understood that evil is the attempt to choke/snuff out/strangle life, to negate life. Something happened to me and I felt like I was going to be annihilated, something is trying to deny my essence, and if I let it be I would end up a living dead, a nothing — and so it dawned on me that this, then, is what evil is. I decided to find a way to stay alive despite the presence of this thing that would callously wipe me off from existence if I let it. So I thought that a retelling of Jesus’ story like the way you’re doing is worth looking into, with the horrors of modern metropolitan living, and they shouldn’t disturb me as much anymore due to my newly found knowledge (haha looks like this leads me further into my “knowledge-of-good-and-evil” musings…). I’m wary like this because I’m not familiar with big city living, and the little that I’ve experienced of it I didn’t really like… but I do like the way you explain the will to power … I agree with what you say in there … and I can’t help wanting to catch your words at each right-hand page because they look like they might fall off any time — this was the first big laugh, actually 🙂 THANK YOU for your great effort in this book. May many people come to read it.

     

  • Dear Sacadalang,

    thank you so much for the comment and for buying a copy of my book. I’m glad you are liking John. He is based on a guy that I met whilst doing some voluntary work. He was working as an ‘enlightened witness’ with other ex-prisoners and this idea of a ‘witness of the light’ kept bringing me back to him whenever I tried to visualise John the Baptist. I was genuinely humbled to meet him. I only met him once, but maybe that is how life is.

    I think that your gut feeling of what evil is, is important. George Macdonald wrote of the shadow inside us all in his book Phantastes, a fairy story for adults. In it he wrote that the affirmation of evil is the negation of all else. So take care of yourself, negation is anti-hope, the anti-social anti-value that builds on feelings of isolation, then anger, then destruction… either of self or others. In the same way that the key to madness is personal to each of us, so is the path to oneness. I love your blogs, their enthusiasm and infectious joy. I don’t know all the films and TV shows you mention, but what I enjoy is learning why you enjoy them. So keep it up, we are all part of the pattern.

    It took me 7 years to write the book, and I always felt that if it touched one person then that was worth it, that whatever I was doing meant something more than just another writer with another book. Sometimes I felt like giving it up as a bad job, and even now I’m not happy with it, I can see the flaws, particularly in grammar. So thank you once again for taking the time to read it.

    kind regards

    Fran

     

  • Dear Fran,
    thank you for replying, for the reply, for Phantastes, for John, and for the encouragement — yep, I have a good idea now about the self-destruction and the wanting-to-quit parts, thanks to my experiences — ach, the grammar, well, grammar does not rule so to say … all I know is that I’m reading a genuine specimen of contemporary British English and for me that’s good enough 🙂
    -wishing-you-a-nice-week-
    ang sacada lang

     

    ❤ ——————- ❤

    ( 4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy with a difference 8 Aug 2013  /  By Viv M)
    I found this book shocking at times and unlike any other “religious” book I’ve ever read. It is an imaginative modern interpretation of the gospel story. I enjoyed the references to Wigan, and there is plenty of humour. It’s a retelling of history with complex twists.
    ❤ ——————- ❤
    4.0 out of 5 stars Are you on the path? 4 Aug 2013  /  By Mark S If you are trying to find a path to faith this book will help. The authors take on the New Testament and the disciples of Jesus provide some great reflective moments for the reader, which disciple are you? The author’s link to modern day diseases, such as the craving for power and certainty, provide an interesting view of the New Testament story and highlight how shallow our modern day lives have become. Our constant desire for instant gratification and oneupmanship are clearly exposed in this insightful work.

    A great read and it really challenged my thoughts. This book has really helped me to think more clearly about what Jesus was really trying to achieve. I don’t agree with all of the authors views but the thought provoking nature helped me to further understand the Bible itself. Well done a great first book.

     

 

A Letter To Michael Berg, From An Ignorant Blabbermouth

Then what am I supposed to do with your story, Michael Berg?

You don’t blame Hanna for loving you. You do not blame yourself for loving Hanna. What, then, am I to make of your sad love story? Okay, so it wasn’t wrong for her to love you, 21 years her junior. But of course only a very few will agree with you. Look at that survivor who described her as having been brutal to you. But you said so yourself that the only love we are not responsible for is the one we have for our parents. I’m glad that it came from your own mouth.

The Reader _front cover

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I hurt for you as I listen to you talk to me in your telling of your story. A fifty-year-old professional coming to grips with an emotion he first experienced for a woman 35 years ago sure speaks something for the love a man has for a woman. Dreaming of her, associating her with the feeling of coming home, describes an attachment stronger than a mere adolescent crush, or even passion.

Michael, for all your words, I really would have loved to hear something from Hanna Schmitz. I wish you were older when you met her then perhaps you would have seen more, have understood more. I feel like if only you didn’t keep your age a secret from her then she would have driven you off, out of her life for good, even if you’ve already been lovers for a week. But even then many people would still want to say that a full grown woman seducing a seventeen-year-old is just as immoral.

Again, what do I really know of Hanna to even suggest that she was immoral in her relationship with you? In what way did she benefit if indeed it’s true that she used you? For all you know the fact that you have become happy lovers has brought her an equal amount of sadness, too.

However, what does her relationship with you have to do with her being on that court trial, and you meddling with her life afterwards? You were not supposed to know anything about her in the first place. Michael, she would have continued on with her silent life had she not heard from you again. Why the hell did you have to send her those tapes? And then not even telling her of how happy you were to receive a note from her when it was obvious that you, of all people, were the one whom she wanted most to be happy with and for her? Would you be excused when it would be said that you had no idea anymore whatsoever if she still loved you in the way you knew she did? But my goodness, Michael Berg, you were microscopic in deciphering the amount of effort she put into that note she sent to you. Didn’t that give an indication of her reaching out to you?

Numbness. Numbness. You always give numbness as the excuse. If a Corrie ten Boom is possible then why couldn’t it work out with you for the sake of the great love you had for her?

Ach, but it’s all over now. I’m ranting needlessly. Like the prison governor I can only feel anger towards the both of you — to you for being a hypocrite about your love for her, to her for not having the strength to deny you, not then, not while she was in prison, and not even when she was about to have a new life. That woman who spoke so callously about Hanna did not realize that you, Michael Berg, have also been brutal to Hanna.

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You say that the generation before you failed in confronting evil. You are the same as them. You just kept on protecting yourself. Even when you discovered what made Hanna the way she is, still you didn’t clear it up with her. Compare your level of literacy with hers. Compare her access to “enlightened” discussions with yours. Why couldn’t you have found the way to come up to her and inform her of her accountability for leaving you brokenhearted? I’m sure you’ve heard of something like with-greater-knowledge-comes-greater-responsibility from somewhere.

Just like the way she asked the judge, what else could she have done when she already knew that the boy she fell in love with was growing up without her, and fast? She knew she didn’t belong to your world. Why would she hamper your growth? That, then, would have been brutal. She actually did you a great service, by disappearing from your life.

Haven’t you heard from somewhere, too, that once you start something you have to take responsibility for it? You led Hanna on by giving her false hope. You made it seem like you have forgiven her for leaving you. You made it seem like you understood her for having ended up in that court. In your having reached adulthood didn’t it occur to you that it was your innocence that attracted her to you? That with you she found a picture of what she would have liked to be had fate been different for her? We do not even have an idea why she became like that in the first place, or why she didn’t take the effort to remedy it for all the earth time she was in existence before she met you.

If you said that coming to visit her was like coming home, then couldn’t you visit her again? Cutting your ties with her is denying your existence, too. If you don’t blame anyone for all that’s happened then perhaps a celebration of your love for each other could awaken from your frozen heart.

Viktor Frankl, too, came from Auschwitz. He saw among his companions the same phenomenon that happened to Hanna, i.e., that the feeling that nobody out there is eager for one’s well-being hastens one’s non-existence.

The Reader _read allI do not know what to say of your story, Michael Berg. Since Hanna did not talk to you, since she didn’t compose narratives, and since she doesn’t even have a collection of songs you’d have an idea she likes then how can we speak of a person’s choices to whom a world of letters cannot speak to? Did you even wonder what made it an imperative for her to guard over her dignity? Can you even begin to imagine the depravities she had to survive and rise from just so that one day she’d be able to make little dance steps in front of the man she loves? You know what, Michael, with your renewed readings to her you pried open her armor and then you left her exposed to the elements.

Maybe we can just say that it’s the price she had to pay for not knowing what to do then. But what can one do when one doesn’t even know that one is supposed to know? How can one guard oneself from the ignorance of ignorance? When you pried open her armor she was beginning to forgive herself. She was learning to face the condemnations. She was having her spring.

What saddens me, Michael, is that it’s possible for X to stand in judgment over Y whom X knows loves X, while all the while denying that a judgment had been passed.

I rest my case, or whatever it’s called.


This narrative is a reaction to Bernhard Schlink’s 1997 novel The Reader.

Han Suk-Kyu + Song Joong-Ki = King Lee Do = King Sejong the Great

Tree With Deep Roots.

A novel by Lee Jung Myung adapted into a sageuk (S. Korean historical drama) of 24 episodes. The name comes from a poem… and the roots pertain to the ministers…

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…This post is unfinished. But since I have already done much on it then I’ve decided to let it out. I do not know when I can have the chance to finish it. I ask for you kindness and understanding.

The things I say here do not do justice to the story, specifically the drama. I do not have much analysis here because it has already been a year since I saw it. I have forgotten the details. But what will always remain with me is the way the King Lee Do here fought off self-aggrandizement. He is ever wary of power but he knows how to make good with the privilege he has as the nation’s ruler. Perhaps when I pick up this post again, to edit, then I would be able to speak with more substance. For now, please excuse the mess 😛 . But please enjoy the photo galleries I have made. I am especially happy that it is for the sageuk Tree With Deep Roots’ King Sejong the Great, or informally King Lee Do, that I have first made them. Also, I am delighted to find out that South Korea names a new “city” after him. I have a little information about it here. I have another post about this drama, speaking of why I like it, please click here.

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King Sejong the Great (May 15, 1397 – April 8, 1450, reigned 1418–1450, fourth king of Joseon), of the personal name Lee Do, or Yi Do, is the subject of the story. This drama revolves around his efforts to create the first official native Korean script, called Han-gul or Han-geul. The most characteristic trait of King Lee Do portrayed here is that he refuses to succumb to the use of might.  The drama depicts the academic and logistic struggles of the king and his companions to eventually bring out into the common people the easily memorized Korean alphabet (compared to the official Chinese script that only those of the so-called upper class know how to read and write).

As his title states, King Sejong the Great is a highly honored person even today. Here was how his birth anniversary was celebrated in 2012:

modern day celebration of king sejong's birthday _2012

A celebration of the 615th anniversary of the birth of King Sejong took place on May 12 and 13 in Gyeongbokgung Palace (photo courtesy of the National Gugak Center). http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=100378

This year 2014 marks the inauguration of  an autonomous city named after him:

Sejong Metropolitan Autonomous City _map's caption

The map’s caption. This enlarges when clicked on.

From the article where the map above is found it reads:

“The Government Complex Sejong is the new home for 4,888 civil servants from ten central government organizations: the ministries of culture, sports and tourism; trade, industry and energy; health and welfare; employment and labor; and, patriots and veterans affairs. The 17-day move takes place from December 13 to 29. With this phase of moving, the total number of civil servants in the new government complex has reached about 10,000 and covers 31 organizations. So far, ten out of the total 17 central government organizations have moved to the Government Complex-Sejong, with state-funded research institutes having started the move in 2011. The shift to the new administrative city now being almost complete, the government’s new era at the Government Complex-Sejong is in full effect. “

There also is a Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, http://www.sejongpac.or.kr/eng/main/main.asp . It holds Asia’s largest pipe organ.

There is a movement for promoting the Korean language, undertaken by the King Sejong Institute.

An image-search on King Sejong the Great yields results that include a monument to him, a royal portrait done in the authentic style, and a poster of another drama based on his life. The king is usually shown wearing his robe, called the dragon robe, of a specific red hue. Even his official portrait has to have this specificity, a fact I learned from Painter of the Wind, which is another historical drama based on the lives of two of the best painters in the kingdom during Yi San’s reign (Yisan = Lee San) 🙂

King Sejong the Great _representations

Tree With Deep Roots, both the novel and the drama, incorporate much fiction. They are not factual authorities. This post deals with the drama and is from a perspective after almost a year of having watched it. This perspective is of a particular Asian who has not read the novel, does not know the languages and scripts of China and Korea, has not studied Confucianism, Buddhism, and Korea itself, and who has not been there, yet. Please excuse the deficiencies and the obvious delight over this particular film production.

Part I.   The king’s personal struggle against the ugliness of violence starts when as a child he accidentally discovers that his father is a ruthless ruler. He did so after having read an essay in a scholars’ exam. The examinee is the young son, not much older than him, of the person representing the main opposition to his father’s rule. He then meets this young scholar and does a verbal sparring with him. The naive Lee Do seemed to have been defeated in this encounter, leading him to be in the company of this boy, actually the future Bonwon (Main Root), as they witness one of the ways that Lee Do’s father employ in order to maintain his power. In this instance the violence is against the future Bonwon’s person and family itself.

The picture galleries zoom in when clicked on.

 

Part II.  Lee Do ascends to the throne as a young man, at an age when he does not yet have the adult men’s facial hair, the one that easily marks eunuchs, who do not have such. His father the former king, King Lee Bang-won (King Taejong), still holds power in every sense of the word. As such, Lee Do is king only in garb and name. His days are spent by himself, thinking and studying, away from the company that his father keeps. His encounters with his father is always tense because his father disapproves of his naivete.

Ministers stand before the king’s throne. But the kingdom is run by his father the former king, the one seated to the side of him in dark royal robes.

His favorite activity whenever he experiences fear due to his father is sudoku. In his massive personal/private study hall he has a giant 33 x 33 board on the floor, one that he has been trying to solve for some time now. As Muhyul enters the hall we see him passing by solved sudoku in increasing sizes, the biggest one visible is at the further right of the king who has his back turned to everyone as he figures out the puzzle on paper. All his attendants are palace maids. They are the movers of the blocks and the calculators, using the abacus. Later is father comes in and mocks the puzzle on hand, calling it the Devil Defensive Formation due to how it can engage the one who tries to solve it as if possessed by a demon. His father destroyed a 3 x 3 formation to show him his own solution to that pattern. It is to put only the value 1 at the center. Somehow this idea, along with another one that comes in later, enabled him to solve the 33 x 33.

His father constantly hopes and entices him through subtle psychological wars to engage in the wielding of power the way he does it. Lee Do refuses him until his death bed, even when his father keeps on insisting that his reigning of this power, keeping it in check with his will, will eventually “rot” inside him and “poison” him. This struggle against the wielding of power, against the wanton use of might, stays with Lee Do until his adult years.

A major psychological war between them took place on the night of the slaughter of prisoners, who are mostly household slaves of the young king Lee Do’s father-in-law (i.e., they are of the queen’s household), due to political machinations. This is in episode 2. Lee Do for the first time unknowingly shows his father that he is wise enough to figure out where to tap power from. This was a very engaging scene involving extreme emotions: disdain, fear, resignation, anger, pain, panic, and overall tension that could draw blood any moment. Lee Do’s winning move was found in his personal bodyguard, Muhyul (Moohyul). Lee Do thought that he had lost in this battle but in fact because of his lightning decision to engage Muhyul his father is now beginning to see him with new eyes. The direct point of contention, the root of the argument, was that Lee Bang-won wanted to kill an escaped slave’s son, a young boy, whom Lee Do has protected by hiding him in a shed nearby. Lee Do simply refuses to give up this boy (who will grow up to be the adult Kang Chae-yoon, portrayed by Mr. Jang Hyuk), and at that time a seemingly petty exercise on his part as the protector of the common people but nevertheless he’s determined to see it through against his father’s all-might.

Here next is an evolution in pictures of how Lee Do changed from a nervous adolescent into one who now carries a veiled threat to his father’s power, but in a dissimilar manner. As Lee Do steps into the soldiers’ target training area the powerful part of the longish soundtrack My Way plays. His father himself gives the order to shoot. The soldiers obey their commander despite their nervousness. The activity is an extreme insult to the young king, one which in ordinary circumstances would call for instant death. Lee Do knows, despite his understandable fear, that due to political reasons his father would not have the arrows be aimed at him, as well as he knows of the dexterity of the soldiers to not have any accidentally hit him. The greater fear that he has to face is therefore the one of him finally stepping out of the shadows and have it spelled out to his father that finally he knows what to do, and that he intends to do it. He offset his father in this encounter when he answered resolutely that from now on he would do things his own way. This final encounter between them came about when his father presented him with a no-win puzzle, with his life at stake. He was able to solve it by radically thinking outside of the box, literally and figuratively (there’s another picture gallery on this, after the one below). He interpreted Lee Bang-won’s puzzle in an unexpected manner, one that Lee Bang-won himself gave the clue to. Thus, his latent insightfulness was unveiled before his father’s eyes. He and his father downplay this potential, that is him, until the former king dies. Although Lee Bang-won never won in any of their ideas-parrying sessions, still Lee Do fulfills his promise of “humility”. He went on to build his Jip-hyun-jun, a hall for studying among fellow scholars, since he has resolved to wait it out and prepare the field for the time when his father is no more, when he at last becomes his own person as the people’s king.

That crucial encounter with his father was the result of him finally having solved the 33 x 33 sudoku puzzle. He has figured out a way to enable him to solve any sudoku game, of any size. Instead of just concentrating on the enclosed square space he expanded the area, making a bigger square that encloses the original one. With all the figures in place now, corresponding blocks are then inserted into appropriate places, back into the original square-area. Voila. All columns, rows, and diagonals add up to the same figure.

 

Part III.  King Lee Do’s reign is a triumph against the seduction of power. He is shown as a superb scholar with radical perspectives. As such he has to work things out away from the acidity of the kingdom’s conservative mainstream scholars. He is introspective, careful, systematic, patient, persevering. These few faces of the young and the adult King Lee Do speak of this personality. Adulthood has brought him self-confidence and openness in his interpersonal relationships. But his pensiveness and naivete remained with him. As time goes by the passion with which he pursues things for his people is of similar, if not slightly less, intensity to the one he subjects his own self to, in self-criticism, throughout the years that he, stage after stage, works out his plans. This group of pictures may be redundant for this post but still I include them because I admire this character, Lee Do, in this drama. He’s the reason why I gave up things today just to be able to do put this all up. It is also because of him that I was able to try making a picture gallery, here in this post for the first time. If not for him I wouldn’t have found out about the two great actors featured here, Mr. Han Suk-kyu as the adult king and Mr. Song Joong-ki as the young king, plus the others who also made the story adaptation great. [This particular picture gallery does not zoom in when clicked on, but a slideshow of them follows beneath.]

Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (1) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (1) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (2) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (3) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (4) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (5) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (6) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (7) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (8) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (9) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (10) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (11) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (12) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (13) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (14) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (15) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (16) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (17) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (18) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (19) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (20) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (21) Tree with Deep Roots _King Lee Do _King Sejong the Great    (22)

 

 

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[12 April 2014 addition]

It is timely that I am now in Episode 18 of re-watching the drama. Without taking note of the specifics, the points being made clear now are of the promulgation of the king’s letters. The antagonists think of it as a life-and-death situation. They oppose the enabling of the commoners’ literacy because this would take power away from the aristocrats. This, they say, will cause the kingdom to collapse. King Lee Do thinks otherwise. He mobilizes his allies, both overt and covert, against an enemy the capability of which matches his.

I anticipate that by the time I get through this episode, and most likely the next as well, I would have arrived at the heart of all the arguments. Most likely I would recall why I got attached to Lee Do’s story this strong, why I thought that he’s radical as well as credible, not just a revered icon but a real human, and why I fell for him 🙂 I have a feeling that these two episodes need a separate longish post as well 😛

Here now are those whom I call as composing King Lee Do’s Machinery, and a tiny glimpse of the “antis”. The whole story works with intersections among the characters. What I have here, for now, is the simplest of delineations. The other characters who are as crucial to the entire movement I will have to leave off until the next part:

 

This part is about the king, Ddolbok and Soyi, plus the king’s self-deliberation scenes with his younger self. ___________ : [I pressed enter here before uploading the pictures]

 

This part shows the relationships between the main protagonists and antagonists. ———- ?

 

This part shows the cast _________ :

 

This part shows related discoveries ____________ :

 

The main trigger as to why I was encouraged to make this longish post was a modelling picture of Song Joong Ki that I saw. When I noticed that he, too, had make-up on I was reminded of how make-up is basic to show business/entertainment, both then and now. Not even Song Joong Ki is spared of it despite his clear skin. I was just at first looking at that picture of his, marveling at the make-up he has on, and suddenly had to recall to myself when and how did I notice that he is not just a face but a talented artist, too. So I thought that instead of just commenting at his looks why not talk about the drama where I first admired the way he projected a character, that of young King Lee Do side by side with a respected veteran, Mr. Han Suk-kyu. So here are just a few other faces of Mr. Song Joong-ki, including that one where I noticed the make-up on him. My top favorites here are, of course, the ones where he just poses as himself, the common citizen who is known by the name Song Joong-ki in the glamour world. [The original owners have the credit to these pictures).

By the way, it’s not only the male celebrities who patronize make-up in South Korea, and in other countries as well. In South Korea the qualification for employment, which involves fierce competition, is assumed to be taking into consideration the way a person fixes his face (i.e., equally with men & women). Somehow it’s a manifestation of the drive to excellence. But you know how the business world is… push push push … treating assets, living and inanimate, all alike …

 

 

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